Thursday, June 30, 2011

Brace Yourselves For The Next Oil Price Shock

Looking at the oil supply & demand fundamentals, next year looks like an accident waiting to happen. If economic growth in emerging economies remains on track, and that is a big If, the next oil price shock will occur in 2012.

Dave Rosenberg recently put the odds of America going into recession in 2012 at 99%, but I doubt he had oil in mind when he said that. On the current path, oil is set to hit $150/barrel next summer. Take an economy in recession, add in oil prices well in excess of $100/barrel, and what do you get?

Let's briefly review the fundamentals. Here's the Energy Information Administration's current outlook (STEO, June 7 edition).

EIA projects that total world oil consumption will grow by 1.7 million barrels per day (bbl/d) in 2011, which is about 0.3 million bbl/d higher than last month's Outlook, primarily because of higher forecasts of consumption for electricity generation in China, Japan, and the Middle East.

Projected world consumption increases by 1.6 million bbl/d in 2012, unchanged from last month's Outlook. Projected supply from non-OPEC countries increases by an average of about 0.6 million bbl/d in 2011 and 0.5 million bbl/d in 2012.

EIA expects that the market will rely on both a drawdown of inventories and increases in production from both OPEC and non-OPEC countries to meet projected demand growth.

These daunting numbers—1.7 million barrels-per-day in 2011, 1.6 million barrels-per-day in 2012—portend a demand shock just like the one the world experienced in 2006-2007. The key phrase is a drawdown of inventories. This is precisely what happened prior to the oil shock of 2008. If you are forecasting that new oil demand will be met by depleting global stocks, you are already acknowledging that supply can not meet that demand. The EIA can't just come out and say that, of course.
Full Article >>>

Location:Cayman Islands

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

IEA move won't stop Saudis from boosting production

Despite hints of retaliation from some members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries over the International Energy Agency's decision to tap strategic oil stockpiles, the Saudi Arabia-led wing of OPEC indicated yesterday that it intends to go ahead with plans to boost output.

"Saudi Arabia will still increase its output to meet any expected demand in the market regardless of the IEA release of emergency stocks," a Gulf official said yesterday.

The Saudi move suggests that even though criticism of the IEA decision came from all corners of OPEC, the producers organization remains split on critical oil policy questions (Greenwire, June 24).

Nearly three weeks ago, an OPEC meeting ended in a hostile stalemate, after which Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates split from the group and said they would increase production by about 1.5 million barrels a day later in the summer.

Some leading figures in OPEC have attacked the move by IEA last week as one intended to influence oil prices, rather than a response to a true shortage (Herron/Said/Faucon, Wall Street Journal, June 28). -- AS
Full Article >>> Subscription

Location: Cayman Islands

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Pakistan to build more nuclear plants to overcome energy needs

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani Monday categorically stated that country's nuclear capability was purely for peaceful purposes and it would build more power plants to meet its growing energy needs.

Addressing participants of the "36th International Nathiagali Summer College on Physics and Contemporary Needs", Gilani said Pakistan in this regard, would continue to comply with the requirements of International Atomic Energy Agency's nuclear safeguard agreements.

"Building and operating nuclear power plants is vital to country's interests because of its severe energy deficiency," Gilani said.

Gilani said Pakistan believed in a meaningful coexistence and reconciliation, and would always strive for development and prosperity in the region.

Prime Minister Gilani lauded the contributions of Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission for basic and applied sciences, adding that the expansion in the country's Civil Nuclear Power Program was commendable.

The Prime Minister recalled inaugurating the second unit at Chashma Nuclear Power Complex - C-II, that enhanced nuclear power generation to 625 Mega Watts.

He said that based upon previous performance, the Atomic Energy Commission was not only poised to achieve the 8,800 mega watts Nuclear Power production by 2030. Full Article >>>

Location: Islamabad

The Good News About Coal

During the years when governments and the media were focused on preparations for the 2009 Copenhagen climate negotiations, a powerful climate movement was emerging in the United States: the movement opposing the construction of new coal-fired power plants.

Environmental groups, both national and local, are opposing coal plants because they are the primary driver of climate change. Emissions from coal plants are also responsible for 13,200 U.S. deaths annually—a number that dwarfs the U.S. lives lost in Iraq and Afghanistan combined.

What began as a few local ripples of resistance quickly evolved into a national tidal wave of grassroots opposition from environmental, health, farm, and community organizations. Despite a heavily funded industry campaign to promote “clean coal,” the American public is turning against coal. In a national poll that asked which electricity source people would prefer, only 3 percent chose coal. The Sierra Club, which has kept a tally of proposed coal-fired power plants and their fates since 2000, reports that 152 plants in the United States have been defeated or abandoned.

An early turning point in the coal war came in June 2007, when Florida’s Public Service Commission refused to license a huge $5.7-billion, 1,960-megawatt coal plant because the utility proposing it could not prove that building the plant would be cheaper than investing in conservation, efficiency, or renewable energy. This point, frequently made by lawyers from Earthjustice, a nonprofit environmental legal group, combined with widely expressed public opposition to any more coal-fired power plants in Florida, led to the quiet withdrawal of four other coal plant proposals in the state.
Full Article >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Monday, June 27, 2011

Virginia Manufacturer Keeps Jobs Local By Embracing Energy Efficiency

Volvo Trucks’ New River Valley (NRV) plant, located in Dublin, Virginia, is the company’s largest truck manufacturing facility in the world—and the plant’s senior management aims to keep it that way.

By embracing energy efficiency as a critical part of its business strategy, the company is realizing huge energy savings as it continues to expand and create local jobs.

Patrick Collignon, plant manager at the NRV facility, understood that the plant’s energy use was intricately tied to its competitiveness and overall success. He saw the pursuit of greater energy efficiency as a critical component in the plant’s strategy to stay healthy and grow during tough economic times. In December 2009, the company joined the Department of Energy’s Save Energy Now LEADER initiative, which calls on manufacturers to reduce their facilities’ energy intensity by 25% over a 10-year timeframe. Since becoming a LEADER Company, Volvo’s NRV plant began tapping into the technical expertise of the Department’s Industrial Technologies Program, as well as its own resourcefulness, to supercharge its energy efficiency efforts. As a result, not only did Volvo rise to its LEADER challenge, it far surpassed it—implementing a range of measures that helped to reduce energy intensity by almost 30% in just one year.

The investments Volvo made in energy efficiency have now paid impressive dividends in terms of the company's cost savings, jobs impact, competitiveness, and environmental footprint. Embracing common-sense, but often overlooked energy efficiency measures helped Volvo cut costs and keep operations—and jobs—for its truck manufacturing business here in the United States. Every Volvo truck sold in the U.S. is built by United Auto Workers -represented workers at the NRV plant. Volvo is now the largest employer in southwestern Virginia with 2,200 employees at its NRV plant. As such, its determination to keep operations — along with the paychecks from those operations — in the United States has helped to bolster the local economy.

Volvo harnessed both a top-down and a bottom-up approach in its efforts to strengthen the company’s competitive position through energy efficiency, instilling a true culture change in the company. To kick-start its effort, the NRV plant established an energy committee tasked with identifying and implementing projects that would reduce the plant’s energy use. The NRV plant also initiated a contest to promote employee engagement in identifying and suggesting ways for the facility to improve its energy efficiency. From late 2009 to early 2010, the implementation of employee-suggested projects saved the NRV plant more than 546,543 kilowatt hours per month, which translates to approximately $33,000 in monthly cost savings. More >>>

Location:Cayman Islands

The Energy Landscape Of 2041

A 30-year war for energy preeminence? You wouldn’t wish it even on a desperate planet. But that’s where we’re headed and there’s no turning back.

From 1618 to 1648, Europe was engulfed in a series of intensely brutal conflicts known collectively as the Thirty Years’ War. It was, in part, a struggle between an imperial system of governance and the emerging nation-state. Indeed, many historians believe that the modern international system of nation-states was crystallized in the Treaty of Westphalia of 1648, which finally ended the fighting.

Think of us today as embarking on a new Thirty Years’ War. It may not result in as much bloodshed as that of the 1600s, though bloodshed there will be, but it will prove no less momentous for the future of the planet. Over the coming decades, we will be embroiled at a global level in a succeed-or-perish contest among the major forms of energy, the corporations which supply them, and the countries that run on them. The question will be: Which will dominate the world’s energy supply in the second half of the twenty-first century? The winners will determine how -- and how badly -- we live, work, and play in those not-so-distant decades, and will profit enormously as a result. The losers will be cast aside and dismembered.

Why 30 years? Because that’s how long it will take for experimental energy systems like hydrogen power, cellulosic ethanol, wave power, algae fuel, and advanced nuclear reactors to make it from the laboratory to full-scale industrial development. Some of these systems (as well, undoubtedly, as others not yet on our radar screens) will survive the winnowing process. Some will not. And there is little way to predict how it will go at this stage in the game. At the same time, the use of existing fuels like oil and coal, which spew carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, is likely to plummet, thanks both to diminished supplies and rising concerns over the growing dangers of carbon emissions. More >>>

The state that is the leader in renewable energy will become the next next superpower. A conflict over a declining resource, and one that is the main cause of climate change ludicrous.

Location: Cayman Islands

Friday, June 24, 2011

Saudi oil needs propel kingdom toward nuclear power

Rising energy demands have forced Saudi Arabia to dip into its spare oil supply, decreasing the amount of oil it's able to export while pushing the kingdom to pursue nuclear power.

Economic development and population growth are driving the need for more oil. Government energy subsidies, which keep the price of oil artificially low, have exacerbated the issue by encouraging a "culture of consumption." Saudi Arabia spends one-tenth of its gross domestic product, about $35 billion, on energy subsidies. But in the wake of the Arab Spring, the ruling al Saud family added almost $100 billion to the economy to reduce the cost of living. There have been no incentives to cut back.

Compared to last year, energy demands during peak hours increased by 10 percent, according to the Saudi deputy electricity minister. Another Saudi official reported that Saudi Electricity Co. burns 1.1 million barrels of crude oil at its power stations per day, and even more in summer.

Saudi Arabia, the world's leading crude oil exporter, currently produces about 12.5 million barrels a day. If left uncontrolled, Saudi officials say, domestic consumption would reach 3 million barrels of crude oil a day by 2028. But economists say that if the energy-consumption growth rate remains at 7 percent, the country will burn almost as much oil as it currently exports. More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Why Localisation Is A Key Part Of The Answer

Last week it emerged that the Department of Energy and Climate Change, whose official position remains that "we do not have any contingency plans specific to a peak in oil production", was actually stating in internal documents released under the Freedom of Information Act that "it is not possible to predict with any accuracy exactly when or why oil production will peak".

Energy bills are going nowhere other than up, with knock-on effects across the economy. The fossil fuels of the future will be dirtier, more expensive and from less accessible places. At the same time, the need to decarbonise is urgent. The world's carbon emissions increased in 2010 by a record amount, in spite of many of the world's economies being in recession, and 19 countries recorded their hottest ever temperatures.

In March, Mervyn King, Governor Bank of England, said: "This is not like an ordinary recession where you lose output and get it back quickly. You may not get it back for many years, if ever, and that is a big, long-run loss of living standards for all people in this country." When something isn't working, it behoves us to question whether a different approach might be more appropriate.

One such approach, spreading around the world with great vigour, is the Transition movement. It suggests that within the challenges of peak oil, climate change, and our economic troubles lies a huge opportunity. In the same way that vast amounts of cheap fossil fuels made globalisation possible, the end of the age of cheap oil will inevitably put globalisation into reverse. More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Thursday, June 23, 2011

US nuke regulators weaken safety rules

US Federal regulators have been working closely with the nuclear power industry to keep the nation’s aging reactors operating within safety standards by repeatedly weakening those standards, or simply failing to enforce them, an investigation by The Associated Press has found.

Time after time, officials at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission have decided that original regulations were too strict, arguing that safety margins could be eased without peril, according to records and interviews.

The result? Rising fears that these accommodations by the NRC are significantly undermining safety — and inching the reactors closer to an accident that could harm the public and jeopardize the future of nuclear power in the United States.

Examples abound. When valves leaked, more leakage was allowed — up to 20 times the original limit. When rampant cracking caused radioactive leaks from steam generator tubing, an easier test of the tubes was devised, so plants could meet standards.

Failed cables. Busted seals. Broken nozzles, clogged screens, cracked concrete, dented containers, corroded metals and rusty underground pipes — all of these and thousands of other problems linked to aging were uncovered in the AP’s yearlong investigation. And all of them could escalate dangers in the event of an accident.

Yet despite the many problems linked to aging, not a single official body in government or industry has studied the overall frequency and potential impact on safety of such breakdowns in recent years, even as the NRC has extended the licenses of dozens of reactors. More >>>

Location: Islamabad

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Al Gore Blasts Obama On Climate Change For Failing To Take 'Bold Action'

Former Vice President Al Gore is going where few environmentalists – and fellow Democrats – have gone before: criticizing President Barack Obama's record on global warming.

In a 7,000-word essay for Rolling Stone magazine that will be published Friday, Gore says Obama has failed to stand up for "bold action" on global warming and has made little progress on the problem since the days of Republican President George W. Bush. Bush infuriated environmentalists for resisting mandatory controls on the pollution blamed for climate change, despite overwhelming scientific evidence that the burning of fossil fuels is responsible.

While Gore credits Obama's political appointees with making hundreds of changes that have helped move the country "forward slightly" on the climate issue, and acknowledges Obama has been dealing with many other problems, he says the president "has simply not made the case for action."
More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Electricity demand

FIJI will continue to rely on diesel-based power generation for some time despite efforts in developing renewable energy resources such as hydro-electricity projects.

According to the Permanent Secretary for Works, Transport and Public Utilities Cama Tuiloma, this is because of the huge demand for electricity far exceeds what can be produced via renewable energy projects in place.

"For a small economy like Fiji, the effects of such consumption and expenditures can be devastating, and also means reduced budgets for critical social concerns such as infrastructure, education and health," he said while addressing delegates at a workshop in renewable energy held at the Hexagon International Hotel Villas and Spa in Nadi yesterday.

Mr Tuiloma said Fiji, along with small island developing states (SIDS) in the Pacific region, failed to recognise the impact of heavy dependence and vulnerability to worldwide price fluctuations on imported petroleum products.

"In the past decade, our petroleum imports have moved from around $400 million in 2004 to a little over $1.2 billion dollars in 2008. That equates to a quarter of our total imports, and the alarming fact is that our energy consumption had tripled in that period of four years. Fiji's imports stood at around 563 million litres of imported mineral fuels in 2009."

"Our dependence and vulnerability to worldwide price fluctuations on imported petroleum products is therefore of great concern to Government and we are developing and implementing our renewable energy policy and programs to reduce our dependence and import of petroleum fuels and to increase the renewable energy share in energy supply in the country," Mr Tuiloma said. More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Monday, June 20, 2011

Shanghai to ration electricity due to power shortage

Offices and shopping malls in the Chinese city of Shanghai will be urged to close their doors on the hottest days of the year this summer.

The power rationing is necessary due to the country's shortage of electricity.
The electricity grid serving China's financial hub does not have the capacity to meet peak demand the authorities say.

China has been coping with power shortages since March, because of coal supply problems and a drought. When the mercury in the thermometer hits 37C (98.5F) - not that unusual in summer here in Shanghai - power rationing will get under way. Some 24,000 businesses - mainly factories and other industrial plants - will face mandatory power cuts. More >>>

Location:Cayman Islands

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Shrinking Pie: Post-Growth Geopolitics

Post-Growth Geopolitics

As nations compete for currency advantages, they are also eyeing the world’s diminishing resources—fossil fuels, minerals, agricultural land, and water. Resource wars have been fought since the dawn of history, but today the competition is entering a new phase.

Nations need increasing amounts of energy and materials to produce economic growth, but—as we have seen—the costs of supplying new increments of energy and materials are increasing. In many cases all that remains are lower-quality resources that have high extraction costs. In some instances, securing access to these resources requires military expenditures as well. Meanwhile the struggle for the control of resources is re-aligning political power balances throughout the world.

The U.S., as the world’s superpower, has the most to lose from a reshuffling of alliances and resource flows. The nation’s leaders continue to play the game of geopolitics by 20th century rules: They are still obsessed with the Carter Doctrine and focused on petroleum as the world’s foremost resource prize (a situation largely necessitated by the country’s continuing overwhelming dependence on oil imports, due in turn to a series of short-sighted political decisions stretching back at least to the 1970s). The ongoing war in Afghanistan exemplifies U.S. inertia: Most experts agree that there is little to be gained from the conflict, but withdrawal of forces is politically unfeasible. More >>>

This article is the part 6 from Chapter 5 of Richard Heinberg's new book 'The End of Growth', which is set for publication by New Society Publishers in August 2011. This chapter 'Shrinking Pie: Competition and Relative Growth in a Finite World' looks in greater depth at the prospects for further development in in an increasingly resource strained environment.

Location: Cayman Islands

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

U.S. Military Gets Serious About Energy

As Edward Humes reports in "Blood and Oil" in the new issue of Sierra, the Pentagon is getting serious about alternative energy--not so much out of concern for global warming, but because of the heavy toll its position as the world's single largest consumer of oil takes in blood and treasure.

He does note, however, that "A fundamental hurdle facing the military's green mission is that despite the ambitious goals set by each branch, there is still no overarching strategy from the Pentagon."

Today, the Pentagon did so, announcing its "Operational Energy Strategy," a formal move away from oil and toward alternative energy.

The strategy has three basic components. The top priority, called “More fight, less fuel,” boils down to basic energy efficiency – using less energy, spending less money. That means investing in new technology that can power the same tanks, jets, and aircraft carriers with less conventional fuel, such as hybrid and electric engines. It also means low-tech solutions like lightening cargo loads and finding new, shorter aircraft routes . . .

The second priority is “More options, less risk.” This translates into a drive to diversify energy sources. Today, almost all military operations rely on petroleum. The idea is to create different sources to do the same work -- using solar power instead of diesel to operate bases, as two bases in Afghanistan’s Helmand province are doing, or biofuels to fly jet planes

The third is “More capability, less cost: Build energy security into the future force.” The idea there is to build the goals of reducing energy use and increasing energy options into all the military’s long-term planning – an approach that could yield deep structural changes in military operations in decades to come. More >>>

Operational Energy Security: Report to Congress PDF

Location: Cayman Islands

Editorial: Mr. President - Are you insane or just blind.

With the greatest respect I would like to ask all world leaders "Are you insane or just blind?"

The world is beset by a perfect storm of peak oil, climate change and an out of control population. all of which are potential conflict triggers.

The high cost and apparently constrained supplies of petroleum are causing blackouts, rolling brownouts and falling productivity in over fifty countries around the globe as I write this.

Climate change has the potential, given the expected rise in average global temperatures, to raise sea level by one metre by the end of the century, inundating islands, coastal plains and deltas around the globe.

Changes in rainfall patterns along with the melting of glaciers could disrupt food production in many of the worlds most populous countries causing famine. Droughts are now evident in states around the world. China is building canal over 1700 kilometers long in an attempt to bring water to water stressed northern areas of the country. Agriculture accounts for at least 70% of a countries water usage. South Asia which is home to well over one fifth of the world's population, is dependent on the seasonal monsoon rains for much of their food production as well as glacial melt water which is the source of the major rivers in the region. As temperatures rise the glaciers will melt, and if the rainfall patterns change millions may perish.

We could see refugee flows the likes of which have never been seen in recorded history, caused by any or all of the above scenarios. Climate Change Refugees will flow from areas of famine to areas where there is food. They will do so legally or illegally and they will be forced to do so even if it costs them their life.

No country can mitigate or adapt to the coming changes on its own. The only way that the human race can survive with a reasonably tolerable level of civilization is by working together. We no longer have time for political bickering, posturing or arguing within states or between states.

The time is now. We have to protect the major portions of the global commons, the atmosphere, the oceans, the biosphere. Humans need these to survive, we need the plants, the animals, the insects. We are dependent on all of it, we cannot survive without a healthy planet.

We are today, more than at any time in the history of the human race, our brothers and sisters keepers.

The Editor

Location: The Cayman Islands

Monday, June 13, 2011

Head of Saudi Electric Company Says "Oil Runs Out in 2030 if Current Consumption Maintained"

Head of Saudi Electric Company Says "Oil Runs Out in 2030 if Current Consumption Maintained"

Mish at Global Economic Trend Analysis has a look at a Saudi report that rising oil consumption for power generation may lead to their oil running out by 2030 - Head of Saudi Electric Company Says “Oil Runs Out in 2030 if Current Consumption Maintained”.

In light of Saudi Arabia wanting to step up production only to be rebuffed by the rest of OPEC, this story from is rather interesting. Courtesy of Google Translate please consider Saudi Arabia fears that the oil runs out in 2030 if current consumption is maintained
Note: I am rewording some awkward translations so they read better.
The electricity company of Saudi Arabia warns that oil in this country could be depleted by 2030 if left unchecked domestic consumption. According to a report of Saudi Electric, domestic consumption is estimated to be between 2.5 and 3.4 million barrels a day. The report, published in the magazine Al Mashka says that the increase in domestic consumption of oil is one of the main challenges facing the country, mainly because oil accounts for 80% of national income.

Abdel Salam al-Yamani, head of the Saudi Electricity Company also warned of the consequences for citizens to ignore the calls to save electricity and water, and has advised that they depend more on solar energy. More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

The Karma of Electric Vehicles

MALIBU, California, June 9, 2011 (ENS) - Large environmental problems like the ongoing Fukushima nuclear catastrophe and the effects of the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico still occupy center stage, but an even bigger solution to the planet's environmental woes is rapidly approaching.

Vehicle electrification can ease dependence on polluting petroleum that is heating up the planet, yet many people are not fully informed on how electric vehicles will fit into their lives. One information gap is public understanding of the important fit between electric vehicles and the smart grid.

A game-changing research paper that addresses this gap, "Vehicle Electrification: Status and Issues," has just been published by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers in the special Smart Grid issue of the Proceedings of the IEEE. It shows how to change the energy equation and serves as a reference source to understand electric vehicles from a whole systems perspective. More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Peak Oil Crisis: The Gathering Storm

The world is beginning to look a lot like the August of 1914 or perhaps the summer of 1939 all over again.

This time instead of the great powers of central Europe dragging the rest of us into a European affair, it seems that nearly every corner of the earth is facing some sort of imminent disaster that could combine into a very unpleasant situation.

In America, where we have been living beyond our means for decades, the time has come to pay the piper. Trillion dollar deficits, rising unemployment, printing of money, $4 gasoline, a weakening dollar and entitlements are combining into a grim outlook for our immediate future. Add to this the toll taken by climate change - unprecedented outbreaks of tornadoes, massive floods, and record droughts - throw in a hurricane or two and we are on the way to serious disruptions.

Politically America is split over what do about all this. Many are simply unwilling to admit that numerous forces are trending towards disaster and keep talking about the return to prosperity. Some favor still more tax cuts until there is little left of government, or increased oil well drilling as the universal balm; some favor Keynesian pump-priming and emissions controls. Still others are totally confused by events that are foreign to the way of life they have known and seek solace in demagogic claims to return the country to growth and prosperity.

The EU too is beset by problems. Although Germany and France seem to have avoided the excesses that are besetting others, most of the EU members, like the U.S., are suffering from living beyond their means. The Union has been bouncing from economic crisis to crisis for months. Regional sources of energy -- coal, oil, and natural gas -- are playing out and the continent will soon be even more dependent on imported energy to keep moving about and the lights on. Germany's and Switzerland's recent decisions to foreswear nuclear power stations only add to the problem.
More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Turning Toward the Sun for Energy

One key component of the Plan B climate stabilization strategy is solar energy. Solar is even more ubiquitous than wind energy and can be harnessed with both solar photovoltaics (PV) and solar thermal collectors.

Solar PV—both silicon-based and thin film—converts sunlight directly into electricity. The growth in solar cell production climbed from an annual expansion of 38 percent in 2006 to an off-the-chart 89 percent in 2008, before settling back to 51 percent in 2009. At the end of 2009, there were 23,000 megawatts of PV installations worldwide, which when operating at peak power could match the output of 23 nuclear power plants. Germany, with an installed PV power generating capacity of almost 10,000 megawatts, is far and away the world leader in installations.

On the manufacturing front, the early leaders—the United States, Japan, and Germany—have been overtaken by China, which produces more than twice as many solar cells annually as Japan. World PV production has roughly doubled every two years since 2001 and exceeded 20,000 megawatts in 2010.

Historically, photovoltaic installations were small-scale—mostly residential rooftop installations. Now that is changing as utility-scale PV projects are being launched in several countries. The United States, for example, has under construction and development some 77 utility-scale projects, adding up to 13,200 megawatts of generating capacity. Morocco is now planning five large solar-generating projects, either photovoltaic or solar thermal or both, each ranging from 100 to 500 megawatts.

More and more countries, states, and provinces are setting solar installation goals. Italy’s solar industry group is projecting 15,000 megawatts of installed capacity by 2020. Japan is planning 28,000 megawatts by 2020. The state of California has set a goal of 3,000 megawatts by 2017. Solar-rich Saudi Arabia recently announced that it plans to shift from oil to solar energy to power new desalination plants that supply the country’s residential water. It currently uses 1.5 million barrels of oil per day to operate some 30 desalting plants. More >>>

Location:Cayman Islands

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

SAFE Analysis: Proposed Fuel Economy Standards could Save Millions of Barrels of Oil per Day; Strengthen Energy Security

WASHINGTON, June 8, 2011 -- On day when OPEC meets to determine production levels, new report examines how improved fuel economy standards can reduce dependence on oil

WASHINGTON, June 8, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Securing America's Future Energy (SAFE) today released original analysis showing that the country could reduce its dangerous dependence on oil by millions of barrels per day through improvements in fuel economy standards. SAFE's report examines the proposed fuel economy standards for 2017-2025, and comes on the same day that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is meeting to set production levels.)

"There can be little doubt that an aggressive fuel economy standard presents the opportunity to reduce substantially our oil consumption and its attendant risks," said Admiral Dennis Blair (U.S. Navy, ret.), former Director of National Intelligence and member of the Energy Security Leadership Council." The critical element of our dependence on petroleum is our cars and trucks, which use the majority of our oil and power our modern economy. Improving fuel efficiency standards will have an immediate impact on reducing our oil consumption – which is critical to our economic and national security."

SAFE's analysis estimates the oil savings from each of four different scenarios that the agency is considering: tightening standards by three, four, five, or six percent a year each year from 2017 – 2025. Depending on the level of increased stringency, SAFE analysis shows the following savings range:

In 2025, a savings range from 0.8 to 1.6 million barrels per day (MBD)
In 2040, a savings range from 2.3 to 4.4 MBD
In 2050, a savings range from 2.8 to 5.2 MBD
On October 13, 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration published a Notice of Intent that declares the agencies' intent to issue regulations that will require automakers to increase fuel efficiency standards between model years 2017 and 2025. The new proceeding expands on recently established requirements that improved light-duty vehicle fuel economy standards from 27.5 miles per gallon (MPG) today to approximately 35.5 MPG. Although the standards only go through 2025, the oil savings increase for years afterwards because of the time it takes time for the fleet to turn over and for the relatively inefficient cars already on the road to be replaced by newer and more efficient cars.

To view the complete analysis, go to

Location: Cayman Islands

BP Says Renewables Add More Than Petroleum to Energy Growth

BP Plc (BP/) said that renewables added more than petroleum-based products to the world’s primary energy consumption growth in the five years through 2010.

Wind, solar, geothermal, biofuels used for power generation and transport have contributed about 1.8 percent of global primary energy supply last year, according to BP Statistical Review. At the same time, China became the largest wind-power generator, overtaking the U.S. and accounting for about 48 percent of all new capacity.

“Over the last 10 years, their share has almost trebled,” BP Plc’s Chief Economist Christof Ruehl said today in London. “Over the last five years, their contribution to primary energy growth was almost 10 percent. That is, higher than the contribution of petroleum-based products.”
London-based BP, which has invested about $5 billion in alternative energy projects since 2005, has been expanding its U.S. wind projects and secured a Brazilian biofuel production venture, Chief Executive Bob Dudley said today in London. More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Cargill, Shell and Honda team up to make gasoline from pine and corn waste

Three global companies from the worlds of agriculture, petroleum and car manufacturing are lead investors in a company called Virent, which has developed a biogasoline that is practically the molecular equivalent of conventional gasoline.

The milestone is significant because the feedstock consists of woody, non-food waste from pine and corn (aka corn stover), a vast improvement over corn, soybeans and other food crops. The partnership is also significant because – well, connect the dots: the three companies are Honda, Shell, and Cargill, and Virent is one of 17 members of the National Advanced Biofuels Consortium, which funded the biogasoline project through a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. With global corporate support building for alternative fuels, it seems that the Obama administration is cultivating some powerful new allies to counteract pressure from the fossil fuel industry.

True Biogasoline from Corn Stover and Pine Waste

Until now, woody plant material has resisted commercialization as a biofuel crop. The culprit is lignin, the hard stuff that forms rigid cell walls in plants. Early attempts to break down lignin involved numerous, expensive steps. Virent developed a cost-effective process with help from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. The result is a product the company calls Bioformate, which is a true “drop-in,” high octane fuel that can substitute directly for conventional gasoline. More >>>

Location:Cayman Islands

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Peak Oil Crisis: An Announcement

With little fanfare, a press release appeared last week on the website of the UK Industry Taskforce on Peak Oil and Energy Security (ITPOES).

The release said that during a meeting between Chris Huhne, the UK's Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, and representatives of ITPOES, an agreement had been reached that Her Majesty's Department for Energy and Climate will collaborate with ITPOES on a joint examination of concerns that global oil supply will begin to fall behind demand within as little as five years. This collaboration is seen by the British government as the first step in the development of a national peak oil contingency plan.
There are many implications buried in this seemingly innocuous announcement.

First, American readers should note that the British government recognizes that energy policy and climate change are inextricably linked so that you cannot formulate policies for one without the other. The major step forward, however, is the official and semi-public recognition by a major government that global oil supplies will fall behind demand in as little as five years. After years of official denial this is indeed a breakthrough worthy of note.

Gone is the rhetoric about the billions of barrels of oil remaining that will last for so many decades that nobody alive today needs to worry. Official recognition has been given to the concept that the remaining oil will be so expensive to extract or will be locked into the earth by intractable political disputes, so that it simply will not be available in the unlimited quantities or at the prices we have known for the last 100 years.
Also implicit in the announcement is that ever-rising real energy costs will destabilize nearly all of the world's economies and that economic growth in the form we have come to know it will no longer be possible.

Location: Lawrence Bl, Cayman Islands

Editorial: Global Energy Shortages

I have just looked at my RSS News Feed under the heading of Energy Shortages and noticed that there are fifty-eight articles from around the world this morning.

These range from utilities in China that are financially struggling to rolling blackouts in Venezuela and Pakistan, to South Africa seeking to cut power consumption by thirteen percent.
This is a world-wide problem, Russia has a shortage of gasoline, which prompted Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to ban exports of refined petroleum products late last month, especially as the country gears up for State Duma elections in December and Presidential elections in the spring of 2011. In Karachi, Pakistan a protester was killed demonstrating against load shedding.

It may just be my imagination but I detect a global trend in all these reports which only reinforces the theory of Peak Oil.

In the Cayman Islands households are billed monthly, with a breakdown between electricity consumed and the cost of fuel used to generate the consumed amount of electricity shown on the invoice. I have people telling me on a daily basis that their fuel charge is more than the electrical charge.

If oil is abundant as OPEC claims why are so many stares globally having these overwhelming energy shortages? One could argue that it is the financial aspect of obtaining petroleum products that is to blame. However, one must ask why the price is escalating. Could it possible be a supply and demand situation?
It really does not matter wether it is unaffordable or unattainable it still leads to a shortage of electricity for all of us. It is therefore time to push of governments and legislators to take the necessary steps to enable the introduction of renewable sources of energy such as solar, wind and ocean thermal conversion.

Location: Cayman Islands

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Time For Obama To Say No To The Fossil Fuel Wish List

In our globalized world, old-fashioned geography is not supposed to count for much: mountain ranges, deep-water ports, railroad grades -- those seem so nineteenth century. The earth is flat, or so I remember somebody saying.

But those nostalgic for an earlier day, take heart. The Obama administration is making its biggest decisions yet on our energy future and those decisions are intimately tied to this continent’s geography. Remember those old maps from your high-school textbooks that showed each state and province’s prime economic activities? A sheaf of wheat for farm country? A little steel mill for manufacturing? These days in North America what you want to look for are the pickaxes that mean mining, and the derricks that stand for oil.

There’s a pickaxe in the Powder River Basin of Montana and Wyoming, one of the world’s richest deposits of coal. If we’re going to have any hope of slowing climate change, that coal -- and so all that future carbon dioxide -- needs to stay in the ground. In precisely the way we hope Brazil guards the Amazon rainforest, that massive sponge for carbon dioxide absorption, we need to stand sentinel over all that coal.

Doing so, however, would cost someone some money. At current prices the value of that coal may be in the trillions, and that kind of money creates immense pressure. Earlier this year, President Obama signed off on the project, opening a huge chunk of federal land to coal mining. It holds an estimated 750 million tons worth of burnable coal. That’s the equivalent of opening 300 new coal-fired power plants. In other words, we’re talking about staggering amounts of new CO2 heading into the atmosphere to further heat the planet. More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Offer of Post Doctoral Positions

Offer of two Post Doctoral Positions at Institute for Research in Technology in Electric Energy Systems and Markets, Smart Electricity Grids and Electricity Sector Regulation.

What does this offer consist of?
We offer the successful applicant the opportunity to begin his/her career as doctor gaining experience of applied research in the areas of electric energy systems, smart electricity grids and electricity sector regulation.
He/she will work under the supervision of members of the academic or research staff of IIT (Institute for Research in Technology), participating actively in the Institute’s daily life (workshops, technical meetings, paper writing…) and playing a major role in the RDI projects we develop for leading companies and public administrations in various industrial sectors.

What is the IIT?
The IIT is a research centre that was founded more than 25 years ago and forms part of the School of Engineering (ICAI) of the Universidad Pontificia Comillas in Madrid. Enjoying internationally recognised prestige, it has a staff of 100 (teachers, researchers and support staff) who work in a number of areas.

What are the conditions?
The postdoctoral stay offered lasts one year and could be extended for a second year if objectives are adequately fulfilled during the first one. The salary will be at the level of that of graduates with some years of experience at a company in the industrial, electrical or rail sectors (33500 euros/year, gross salary).
Who will be the successful candidate?
Preference will be given to applicants who have recently obtained his/her doctoral degree, with experience in the mentioned technical areas and with a good level of English. We also value publications of the candidate in international journals included in JCR, and good academic curriculum. We are looking for people who are keen to deal with problems requiring innovative solutions, who offer teamwork skills, and who have the desire to continue to develop academically a researcher at advanced levels.

Send your CV
If your want to apply for these positions, please complete the application form and upload your CV and details of your academic record in:

Location: Cayman Islands

Prospect of limiting the global increase in temperature to 2ºC is getting bleaker

CO2 emissions reach a record high in 2010; 80% of projected 2020 emissions from the power sector are already locked in.

Energy-related carbon-dioxide (CO2) emissions in 2010 were the highest in history, according to the latest estimates by the International Energy Agency (IEA).

After a dip in 2009 caused by the global financial crisis, emissions are estimated to have climbed to a record 30.6 Gigatonnes (Gt), a 5% jump from the previous record year in 2008, when levels reached 29.3 Gt.

In addition, the IEA has estimated that 80% of projected emissions from the power sector in 2020 are already locked in, as they will come from power plants that are currently in place or under construction today.

“This significant increase in CO2 emissions and the locking in of future emissions due to infrastructure investments represent a serious setback to our hopes of limiting the global rise in temperature to no more than 2ºC,” said Dr Fatih Birol, Chief Economist at the IEA who oversees the annual World Energy Outlook, the Agency’s flagship publication.

Global leaders agreed a target of limiting temperature increase to 2°C at the UN climate change talks in Cancun in 2010. For this goal to be achieved, the long-term concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere must be limited to around 450 parts per million of CO2-equivalent, only a 5% increase compared to an estimated 430 parts per million in 2000. More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Energy Security and the Spectrum of Engagement Between China and India in the Indian Ocean

The redistribution of global power resulting from the rise of India and China has increased the strategic importance of the Indian Ocean.

Its sea lanes supply both countries with the majority of their imported natural resources and, as a consequence, determine their energy security. While maritime security for these sea lanes therefore serves as an overlapping interest, the scarcity of energy resources, especially for energy consumers, is driving intense global economic competition between the two powers for long-term energy supplies. This in turn introduces great complexity into projections of the nature of their long-term relationship. The result is a full spectrum of analyses, ranging from deep coordination on one end to full-scale confrontation on the other. Since systemic factors strongly disincentive the extremes, the future of the relationship almost certainly lies somewhere in the range of limited cooperation to limited confrontation. However, the erosion of American unipolarity has made this calculation difficult at best. In such a complex environment, a survey of the full spectrum of possibilities proves especially useful as aspects of each likely will influence the evolution of the rising powers’ engagement.

Revisionist collaboration
Intensive cooperation between India and China could be realized through the coordination of state actions to promote their shared interests. This coordination likely would be the result of formal contract and enforcement through international treaties and organizations or new norms and conventions that provide informal guides for state conduct specifically in regions that affect the actors’ energy security.

As China remains uncomfortable with international energy markets and institutions, it is unlikely that this coordination would arise within the status quo. Instead, new institutions or norms almost certainly would be the result of revisionist action by both actors to reshape a regional system that fails to properly accommodate their rising power interests. More >>>

Location: Islamabad